Is Marriage Outdated?
Is marriage becoming an outdated practice in a modern world?
The media is constantly announcing a new study or a recent report about the decline in the percentages of people who are living in a stable marriage or family. Since so many people are opting out of taking marriage vows, the government must adjust to what is becoming an accepted practice. The Census Bureau is changing their definition of “family unit”. They will now start calling a single parent with a live-in, unmarried person a family unit. The statistics all tell the same story. People with less education and lower incomes are seeing marriage as an unnecessary bother and expense. An ever higher percentage of our society view getting married as creating a bigger expense and entanglement when it is time to switch partners.
Does that mean that I am worried about my role as a Marriage Coach becoming obsolete? Not on your life! I cannot imagine a situation where the skills and insights I teach are even more urgent or more in demand!
Just because there are more people who resist getting married, it does NOT mean that people are living as single adults. People want to be together! They need intimacy. They need someone to share their lives with. Just NOT getting married simply makes the task of living together more complicated.
If two people live in the same home they will face difficult challenges. Notice that I did not say “two people who do not get married will face difficult challenges”. Every couple will face challenges just because being faithful companions is a TOUGH thing to do! That other person is weird. That other person wants things from us sometimes when we don’t want to give them. There are tug-of-wars between the partners in even the best relationships. Our two in-born selfish natures collide and ricochet around inside the relationship where one seems to get more of what they want one time; then things change and the other person seems to be the one who benefits. Marriage is a tough business for most of us.
I am fully aware that there are people who get married thinking that “having a ceremony” is something similar to the magic potion that keeps bad things from happening to their family. They don’t have the maturity to understand the personal responsibility that goes into making a marriage work. Those people have not learned how to love. They are not able to look at the other person as a whole and completely different person who now becomes the most important other person in their lives,
Having acknowledged that some married people don’t really understand how to love, remaining unmarried is an even more difficult proposition. The underlying assumption of not being married often is, “I don’t want to get too entangled”. There are those who say, “I don’t want to get hurt again”. Some want to keep their options open for the future. Others are in relationships where one partner says something like, “I’m not ready to get married, yet“. That phrase can mean many different things but it is very clear that they have limited expectations for the relationship.
As it turns out, the very same people who don’t want to get hurt by a failed relationship again are in for a disappointment. They have made up this little script in their minds that says, “If I don’t commit to this relationship, then it won’t hurt so bad when we break up.” But, it does hurt when they break up. And in addition, it hurts again and again. People who remain unmarried have more breakups and have more heartache because they are changing partners more frequently. They have created the very situation they wanted to avoid.
For the individual who is in a relationship and says, “I’m not ready for marriage”, I have a message for you. GROW UP! You want to have someone to love. You want someone to love you. You want to have the intimate relationship that gives you much of what you want, but you don’t want to provide the very thing that your partner needs the most. How lame is that? If you truly believe that you are not ready, then remove yourself from the relationship until you get ready. If you need help to learn how to drive a car or find a good job, you would find the people who could train you to get the skills and insights you need to get the thing you want. Why not do the same in your personal life? Get to the right people who can teach you how to love like a real grown up, mature adult and then find someone you can commit to.
Please understand why I use such harsh words. People who refuse to commit, who refuse to live a life of dedicated, loving service to someone in their lives, are a danger to society. They leave a trail of heartbreak and sorrow behind them. All around them are broken relationships, children without a stable parent, partners who are left to cope with the debris of broken dreams and wasted years. Why do I sound so harsh? Because selfish, sinful people hurt the very ones they were supposed to love and care for. This is a terrible tragedy and should be stopped.